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Tuesday July 23, 2024

Punjab accuses Sindh of exceeding its share

Punjab has accused Sindh of excessively drawing river water over and above the allocated quota

By Our Correspondent
June 02, 2024
This image released on October 10, 2023, shows a general view of the River Indus. — Facebook/Living Indus
This image released on October 10, 2023, shows a general view of the River Indus. — Facebook/Living Indus

LAHORE: Punjab has accused Sindh of excessively drawing river water over and above the allocated quota, which is also reflected in the fact that it allows flows out of its share to drain into the sea.

Strongly negating the notion of water shortages in Sindh, the Punjab irrigation department claimed on Friday that the lower-riparian province had drawn 3.560 million acre feet (MAF) of water against its share of 2.773 MAF during the pe-riod from April 1 to May 20, 2024, which is 20 per cent more than its due share allocated by the Indus River System Au-thority (IRSA).

Punjab shared its point of view about the ‘controversial water sharing’ following Sindh’s claims that it faced a 29 per cent shortage when compared with flows covered under the Water Accord 1991 for the month of May.

Sindh also highlighted what it called ‘discrepancy in flows’ at Taunsa Barrage in Punjab during the actual discharge measurement activity conducted by the Pakistan Council of Research in Water Resources (PCRWR), which was brought to the notice of IRSA through a May 23 correspondence.

Sindh also urged IRSA to ensure the stoppage of water withdrawals from the Indus zone through Chashma-Jhelum (CJ) and Taunsa-Panjnad (TP) Link Canals in Punjab. These link canals, according to Sindh, are transferring water from the Indus although Mangla has surpassed the anticipated storage level by 10.1ft, the province claimed.

Responding to Sindh’s assertion, the Punjab irrigation department’s spokesperson observed that on May 31, 2024, against the 98,700 cusecs maximum share of Sindh under the Water accord, Sindh had placed its indent of 140,000 cu-secs and IRSA released 190,000 cusecs of supply, which was more than double the actual share of Sindh.

This, according to the spokesperson, clearly indicates that Sindh is not only drawing irrigation supplies above its due share but is also enjoying the full requirements of its canals as per its desire.

Owing to a shortage of supplies assessed by IRSA, the authority had planned zero flows downstream Kotri Barrage un-til June 2024. However, after meeting the canal water requirements of the province, Sindh has drained 0.062 MAF of supply below Kotri to date. Punjab believes that it is a violation of the decision taken during the IRSA Advisory Commit-tee (IAC) meeting, shared the spokesperson.

While responding to Sindh’s objections to the operations of the Chashma-Jhelum Link Canal and the Taunsa-Panjnad Link Canal, the irrigation department made it clear that Sindh should recall the decision by the IAC which said that the surplus supplies of the Indus zone would be utilized to facilitate the filling of Mangla Dam. Hence, IRSA is operating both the Tarbela and Mangla reservoirs and link canals strictly in accordance with that decision.

IRSA has already mentioned that excessive flows available in Tarbela reservoir were being used to fulfil Punjab’s water share. Moreover, Chashma-Jhelum and Taunsa-Panjnad Link Canals were being operated within the parameters set by Clause 14(d) of the Water Apportionment Accord 1991, remaining within Punjab’s share.

Moreover, Punjab strongly believes that the tremendously increasing river losses in Taunsa-Guddu reach are solely due to the underreporting of discharges at Sindh barrages. Discharge measurements at Taunsa and Chachran reach by the PCRWR show an unusual value of only 1.0 per cent loss, whereas losses in 310km-long Taunsa–Guddu reach based on the reported discharge by respective provincial irrigation departments are in the range of 12-30 per cent.

Therefore, both flow measurements at Taunsa and Chachran by the PCRWR are doubtful and need clarification. Pun-jab has intimated IRSA about this anomaly in gauging discharges by the PCRWR.

The Punjab irrigation department’s spokesperson shared that “a flow measurement mission (FMM) is already per-forming the actual discharge observations at various points in the Indus Basin irrigation system under the installation of telemetry system project. FMM-3 measured discharges downstream of Taunsa Barrage at Chachran Bridge on April 23 and 25, 2024 and found the actual discharges to be the same as those reported by the Punjab irrigation department.”

“The actual discharge measurements done by independent teams during 2022 and 2023 reveal that Punjab has been reporting discharges correctly at all of its barrages,” the official said.

“The supply shortages claimed by Sindh are self-induced due to under reporting at Sindh barrages, which was wit-nessed by various independent joint discharge measurements (JDMs) teams during the actual discharge measure-ments in 2018, 2019, 2022, 2023 and 2024. The underreporting was in the range of 10-12 per cent. The authorities should take notice so that the share of other provinces may be protected,” the official stressed.